MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, June 23

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, June 23 article feature image

Meg Oliphant/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants.

Our solid week continues on Friday with a 2-1 day. We've turned a profit on three of the four days this week, with a chance to make it four out of five tonight. Five total bets today, including a few different angles on the Coors Field game.

The Model

The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full game (implied) run totals for either team are roughly efficient. As mentioned above, that tends to be the case more often than not. This saves me the trouble of trying to predict the total runs scored in the game — and allows me to focus strictly on the "when" rather than "how many."

Next, I built a database of pitchers performance the first time through the order, relative to their overall stats. Since the latter is presumably baked into the full game total, I wanted to figure out if those runs are more likely to come early or late. Most — but not all — MLB starters do somewhat better early in games, but with some variance in just how much. The model uses xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching) as the ERA predictor of choice.

That's only half of the equation, though, with the offenses making up the other half. To do this, I looked at what percentage of a team's total runs is produced by the top three batters in the lineup. While a first inning run scored, by definition, needs at least four hitters to come to the plate, one of the first three has to actually score it. The metric of choice here is wRC+, based on the projected lineup for the day from each team.

This is a bit of a tradeoff, as lineups (and run totals) can shift throughout the day, especially if significant contributors miss time. However, in my experience the inefficiency of the morning lines more than makes up for the leakage in the model. With that said, exercise caution if, say, Mike Trout is listed as questionable for the nights game.

The Picks

With all of the picks below, I'll include the pick, the best line and the threshold I'd bet it to. These will go up in the morning, so if any major news breaks between publishing and when you read it, be sure to consider that.

Infrequently, rather than betting on the traditional YRFI/NRFI, the pick will be on one team or the other specifically to score a run, which as of this writing is only a betting option at DraftKings. Since the model handles each team individually, sometimes one team is projecting for a greater proportion of the "run equity" in the first inning than the betting lines are accounting for.

NRFI Odds, Picks for Friday, June 23

Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners NRFI: The strength of the two starters here is more than enough to outweigh the 8.5-run total. Especially at BetMGM, where the line is a bit more generous than elsewhere. There's a solid chance of some weather-related issues here today, but the listed starters should at least pitch in the first inning if and when it happens.

Pick: NRFI (-110) | Play to -120

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets YRFI: Of the two starters in this game, the better overall pitcher (Kodai Senga) has worse splits the first time through the order, giving both teams solid first inning projections. The 9.5-run total is obviously a factor as well. Like the game in Baltimore, weather could be a factor here, but a late start in theory helps the odds of a first inning run by disrupting the starters' routines.

Pick: YRFI (-113) | Play to -120

Cleveland Guardians vs. Milwaukee Brewers NRFI: The Guardians rank 27th in wRC+ against lefties, while the Brewers have to face Shane Bieber. The Biebs may never recapture his former glory, but he's still a solid starter with excellent early game splits.

Pick: NRFI (-120) | Play to -140

San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks YRFI: Both pitchers in this one have reverse splits their first time through the order, and both offenses rank top-10 in terms of production from their first three hitters. That's enough for me, even with a relatively low total.

Pick: YRFI (-108) | Play to -120

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: The straight YRFI is technically a value in my model, but I'm never a fan of laying such heavy juice on first inning bets. Two possible solutions: over 1.5 first inning runs is +135 on DraftKings, and I'm showing a mean runs of 1.6 in the first inning.

My preferred option is to bet both teams YRFIs individually on DraftKings for half a unit each. Colorado is +205 and LAA is +155, meaning you'd turn a profit if either one hit, and have a massive return if both did — with less risk than needing two total runs.

Pick: YRFI — LAA: +155 | COL: +205 | Play to +140 and +190

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